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Historically Fort Bend:
Ice Cream Nostalgia


An illustration of a Wonder freezer from Barlow’s A Price Guide to Victorian Houseware Hardware & Kitchenware.

An illustration of a Wonder freezer from Barlow’s A Price Guide to Victorian Houseware Hardware & Kitchenware.

Photo of a side-crank freezer. Photo - George Ranch Historical Park

Photo of a side-crank freezer. Photo – George Ranch Historical Park

By Chris Godbold

What things bring back special memories of your youth? Is there an object that immediately takes you to a different time and place? Something as simple as a smell or a sound can send you to a memory of a beloved person or important event. Objects can be time machines, too.

Perhaps an ice cream churn with wooden sides and a metal canister inside makes you think of a hot summer day when you cranked until you were tired and your arms hurt. The metal canister contained a metal or wooden beater that was attached at the top to the hand crank mechanism. Mom or Dad poured the ice cream mixture in the container and placed it inside the wooden churn. Then the space between the churn and the container was filled with ice and salt. The cranking began with the turning of the handle moving both the beater and the interior container.

Ice treats have been around since before the birth of Christ. Recipes resembling ice cream as we know it first seem to appear in the 16th century. Ice cream made its way to America in the 18th century. At first, ice cream was enjoyed only by the rich because ice was limited. After ice and refrigeration technology improved in the early 1800s, ice cream manufacture was established in the mid-19th century. The first churns for home use were invented in 1843 by Nancy Johnson and patented by W. G. Young in 1848. In the 1880s, there were several models from which to choose and several sizes. Some cranked on top and some cranked on the side. Other models had large flywheels on the sides while still others were completely made of metal. There were even models in which the freezer was horizontal.

In 1905, around 14 companies made ice cream freezers including White Mountain, which still sells hand-cranked ice cream freezers today. In the 1950s, electric motors were introduced for ice cream freezers that offered an alternative to seemingly endless cranking by hand. Today, there are numerous models that can create ice cream right on the kitchen counter or in the freezer with no sweat required. Some people would say that homemade ice cream doesn’t quite taste as good if you haven’t spent time cranking away on the freezer first.

Historical facts and photos courtesy of the
Fort Bend County Museum Association, Richmond, TX

 

sponsored by ASIA Cabinetry


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